Culinary herbs are at their tastiest from midsummer,when their foliage is still fresh and unblemished, as their flavour peaks just before flowering.
This is the time to harvest large quantities to preserve for later.
Water and feed herbs well afterwards for a second harvest at the end of summer.
SOW herbs like parsley in summer for use in autumn and winter. When the seedlings are big enough to handle, water well and thin out to 80mm apart then water them again.
CUT off the growing tips of bushy herbs like basil for kitchen use and to encourage lots of new sideshoots.
WATER recently planted herbs in dry weather and check pots regularly.
KEEP on top of weeds, especially in new beds where herbs are establishing.
FEED potted herbs and new perennials in beds with a high-potash fertiliser.
There are four techniques for creating new plants from herbs.
PINCH out parsley flowers on older plants for more leaves but let one or two flower and self-sow to provide seedlings for transplanting in autumn.
DIVIDE old mint for new plants. Lift mature clumps after flowering, chop into pieces with a spade and transplant the outer pieces, discarding the centre.
TAKE cuttings of woody herbs like bay and rosemary in summer, dip the stems in hormone powder and pot up.
LAYER low branches of thyme and rosemary by pinning them down in the soil, keeping the tips above ground, and they should take root by winter.
To grow well, basil needs warmth and shelter, a free-draining rich soil and regular feeding.
Water plants before midday whenever the soil is dry, but avoid overwatering.
Feed basil every 10 to 14 days with high-nitrogen liquid fertiliser.
Pinch out the growing tips regularly, starting while the plants are still small.
This will encourage bushy growth and prolong the life of the plants by suppressing flowering.
Most varieties of mint are vigorous growers with a spreading habit.
To prevent the roots invading nearby plants, grow mint in pots or confine in beds by planting in an old bucket, making sure it has lots of drainage holes in the base.
Trim back any wandering roots once or twice in summer. As mint starts to flower, the quality of the foliage deteriorates.
Cut down a proportion of the tall stems to just above soil level, water well and apply a high-nitrogen fertiliser to stimulate a second crop of young, full-flavoured leaves.
Check for mint rust, looking for pale, swollen or distorted stems and dirty orange spots on the leaves.
Cut off affected growth to ground level and burn, or dispose of it in the bin immediately.